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Film / Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter

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Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter is a low-budget western/horror hybrid film released in 1966, in which a fictionalized version of the real-life western outlaw Jesse James encounters the fictional granddaughter (the movie's title notwithstanding) of the famous Dr. Frankenstein. The film was originally released as part of a double feature along with Billy the Kid Versus Dracula in 1966. Both films were shot in eight days at Corriganville Movie Ranch and at Paramount Studios in mid-1965; both were the final feature films of director William Beaudine.

In an ancient monastery overlooking a small village in Mexico lives Maria Frankenstein (Narda Onyx) and her brother, Rudolph (Steven Geray),the grandchildren of the infamous Dr. Frankenstein, whose monster creation horrified Europe fifty years ago. Running from an American posse, Jesse James (John Lupton) and his friend Hank Tracy (Cal Bolder), are the last of the James gang. Hank is wounded. They meet Juanita Lopez (Estelita Rodriguez), and she takes them to the only doctor in the village. Once there, Maria sees this as a chance to complete the work of her grandfather. She sends Jesse and Juanita to get medicine for Hank and, while they are gone, performs a brain-transplant on Hank, and names the result Igor. She then orders him to kill her brother. Jesse returns and Maria tells him Hank has left. Jesse suspects otherwise.

Includes examples of:

  • Brain Transplant: Maria transplants her grandfather's artificial brain into Hank's body.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Jesse unconvincingly attempts to explain away Hank's gunshot wound by saying he shot himself while cleaning his gun.
  • Fate of the Frankensteins: Dr. Frankenstein's grandchildren Rudolph and Maria move to America to continue their experiments in the Wild West.
  • Historical Domain Character: Jesse James
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard: Maria sends Igor to kill Juanita. However, when Igor sees Juanita pleading for her life, he remembers that she was kind to him when he was still Hank, and he manages to shake off Maria's Mind Control long enough to turn on her. Maria is still maniacally shouting "Kill! Kill!" as she realises Hank is wrapping his hands around her throat.
  • Inspector Javert: Once Marshal McPhee gets on Jesse's trail, he will not give up.
  • Mad Scientist: Maria Frankenstein, who experiments on the inhabitants of a Mexican village in an effort to recreate her grandfather's Brain Transplant technique. Her brother Rudolph has the same skills, but is plagued by a pesky conscience.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Maria has one set up in the monastery. The lab was actually composed of props from Universal Horror movies, and would largely be reused in Young Frankenstein.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Rudolph is far too softhearted to be a Mad Scientist, and Maria eventually discovers that he has been sabotaging her experiments.
  • Neutral Female: After Juanita is kidnapped by an Indian, Jesse arrives to rescue her. She stands by wringing her hands and praying while Jesse and the Indian fight; instead of, say, picking up a rock and hitting the Indian. In the final battle, it looks like she is doing the same thing again as Jesse and Igor wrestle. However, she somehow finds the wherewithal to pick up Jesse's dropped gun and shoot Igor.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Lonnie betrays all of the gang, including his brother, to the authorities in order to claim the reward on Jesse.
  • Please Shoot the Messenger: Maria tries to get rid of Jesse by giving him an envelope she says contains a prescription for Hank, and sending him to Prescott to get it filled. However, the envelope actually contains a letter telling the druggist the bearer is the outlaw Jesse James, and to summon the authorities.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: The muscular Hank is shirtless from the time Maria transplants the artificial brain into his body onwards.
  • We Have to Get the Bullet Out!: Juanita says this almost word for word when she examines Hank's wound. As Jesse and Hank cannot go to a regular doctor, she takes them to the Frankensteins.
  • Would Harm a Child: At the start of the movie, the Frankensteins have already killed three village children in the course of their experiments.
  • You Have Failed Me: On learning that her brother Rudolph has been sabotaging her experiments, Maria has Igor strangle him.